Continuing our coverage of the Steam Next Fest 2023, we have the story-driven detective game The Inquisitor.
The Inquisitor takes place in a world where Jesus was crucified but instead broke free from the cross and fought back against the Romans. Jesus unleashed his vengeance upon those who crucified him, razing the city and decapitating Emperor Tiberius, essentially changing the course of the Catholic religion forever.
The game shows us this in the opening cutscene, but regular dialogue is also filled with hints that help us understand how religion works in this world. Established religion now paints a vengeful Jesus, who teaches to not forgive those who would trespass against you.
It’s also a really nice detail that the cross in The Inquisitor isn’t straight, but twisted at the edges. It is referred to as the broken cross, which symbolizes Christ’s unwillingness to be crucified. A lot of Jesus’ teachings have been altered for this new version of the religion, and the biblical passages we see during loading screens paint him as a much more punitive figure.
In the game, we play as Mordimer Madderdin, an inquisitor sent by the church to investigate rumors of a vampire in the town of Koenigstein. Arriving at the town, Mordimer has to deal with small-time thieves, ritualistic killings, and mysterious visions, which only serve to make his job even more complicated.
Following the game’s themes, I have a confession to make: I went into The Inquisitor expecting absolute schlock. I had no faith in the game from what I saw before playing, but was shocked when I found one of the most earnest attempts at delivering a cinematic story-heavy game on a low budget.
The game’s story is actually really compelling, and Mordimer is a pretty entertaining protagonist to play as. It honestly reminds me of the earlier Witcher games, which were fantastic story-wise but got written off as Eurojank by a lot of people.
Mordimer can be either a reasonable inquisitor or an absolutist, and the game lets you go pretty far when it comes to delivering punishment, especially because your word as an inquisitor will not be doubted. You are always allowed to deliver what you think is the correct punishment for those who have wronged you.
In my playthrough of the demo, I decided to have Mordimer be a reasonable guy, which becomes an increasingly difficult task the more rotten people you meet. The world of The Inquisitor does not shy away from dark fantasy territory, and most peasants you encounter won’t shy away from doing horrible deeds.
The demo unfortunately doesn’t wrap up any storylines, but it does set up the game quite nicely. I am 100% invested in this story and definitely want to see what the game’s final release is going to look like.
Mordimer can also go into a place called the Unworld, which is essentially a ghost realm that helps him recover shards of events to have a vision. These visions help him move cases forward and give him information on past events he wasn’t present to see.
In the Unworld, you are chased by a massive flying monster, making these sections stealth-adjacent. It’s definitely a step above most forced stealth sections in games, but it does hurt the game’s pacing a little.
Combat in the Inquisitor is also pretty basic, especially because it’s not the game’s main focus, but I respect the developers for not solving fights with a series of quick time events. There is an actual combat system where you can do light attacks, heavy attacks, parry, and dodge. The game’s combat is not a major selling point for me, but I appreciate its inclusion nonetheless.
Overall, I was extremely surprised by The Inquisitor. Not only does the game fully commit to its premise, but it also manages to deliver a pretty interesting story without making many compromises. The game is definitely running on a lower budget, but that hasn’t stopped the developers from tailoring a very engaging story.
The Inquisitor is not a title that will please everyone, but people willing to look past some of the game’s shortcomings will find a really engaging story that delves deep into themes of morality, power, and religion.
The Inquisitor is set to release February 2024, for PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, and Microsoft Windows (through Steam). The game’s demo is available on Steam as part of the Steam Next Fest 2023 event.